Let’s be honest… when was the last time you used a large survival knife in a real-world application? Survival knives look cool, have that manly feel to them, and they just feel good. I fully understand our fascination with large knives, and I like them as much as everyone else.
However, they are heavy, too large to make a good skinning knife, can be expensive, and for most applications, are overkill.
Over the past couple of months I have been watching a lot of thru-hiker videos. The goal was to take the experiences of lightweight thru-hikers and apply it to my gear. A common sentiment was that large survival knives are unnecessary.
For example, in this video, Darwin On the Trail talks about five pieces of gear he suggests you leave at home. Some of his advice is location-specific, such as the types of bears he runs into.
After watching the video, and another by someone else, I asked myself, “When was the last time I used one of my large knives?” Being totally honest, I could not remember the last time I used my seven-inch-bladed Cold Steel Recon Scout in a real-world application.
During my past few hiking trips, I took my Gerber Big Rock and a pocket knife. I honestly can’t remember the last time I used the Gerber Big Rock. The pocket knife was used to open pouches of Mountain House freeze dried food.
Overrated Survival Knives
I fully understand the lore of Rambo-style survival knives. As I write this article, I am 49 years old and Rambo played a part in my teenage years. I bought a hollow handle survival knife sometime around 1984.
Then there is the adventure of taking nothing more than a knife into the woods and “living off the land.”
I have to admit there have been very few times when I needed anything larger than a pocket knife. For example, when my family and I were on a hunting lease where I helped skin numerous deer, my most-used skinning knife was a Case pocket knife. Its three-inch blade is much better at making fine cuts than a heavy survival knife.
The honest truth is that even though large survival knives are rarely used and I cannot justify their weight on a camping or hiking trip, I still like to have one. Don’t you?